Development permits for new retail businesses in the Enos Ranchos development were approved at a special meeting of the Santa Maria Planning Commission on Wednesday night.
The project, on 113 acres at the northwest corner of Betteravia Road and Highway 101, will include seven zones that would be designated for different uses, such as a park, residential space and possibly a school. The development was approved by the Planning Commission and City Council in February and early March.
The Planning Commission last week approved a tract map that will restructure some streets and create others. Developers say construction is planned to begin this summer and that the first step will be realigning Bradley Road.
Led by NKT Commercial, development plans include a Lowe's Home Improvement, a new site for Costco and a gas station.
Other businesses planned for the site are Chick-fil-A, a quick-service chicken restaurant chain, Buffalo Wild Wings and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The project has been touted as a way to improve the looks of the area that many use to enter Santa Maria, with canopy trees lining the streets, a walkable design and an emphasis on quality architecture.
Discussion about development on Bradley West zeroed in on potential traffic concerns on the site off Betteravia Road, including the drive-thru section of where the proposed Chick-fil-A will be located.
According to city planner Neda Zayer, Chick-fil-A had stated that the restaurant has planned for about 20 cars to be stacked in a queue for the project, and in addition as part of their conditional operation, will be sending out attendants to take orders on iPads.
Laurie Tamura of Urban Planning Concepts said that while queuing orders and potential traffic in and out of the restaurant have been known issues, "clientele won't be sitting in line, and what is nice about this project is that it is stand-alone."
"The cars won't impede on any other commercial enterprises, but the fact that [Chick-fil-A] will have outdoor ordering areas will enable workers to go out and take orders to speed up the process," Tamura said.
City planners also presented new elevations for the proposed Buffalo Wild Wings that will be located in the same area for Bradley West. An additional landscaping feature had been added along with enhanced architecture that will provide an attraction for the area. Developers also have switched from the proposed mission-style architecture to evolve it into a "California contemporary" design.
For Bradley East, so far the proposed site plan for the project includes a bank and a Lowe's Home Improvement store, but no other tenants have applied so far. City planners also said that developers were proposing to reduce about two dozen trees and that spacing will be adjusted to avoid large gaps along the landscape of Bradley East.
"The reduction is minimal, and visibility won't be an issue for tenants; we have kept or added trees to the site," Zayer said.
"Developers are also proposing to implement canopy trees measuring 30 feet high, so there should be lots of tree coverage in these areas," she added.
Mark Stoner, director of estate at Lowe's, promised that the daily delivery truck route should not affect traffic at the site.
"The truck traffic will come down Betteravia, then turn right on Bradley and enter the delivery area; once they drop their deliveries, they will come out and turn right on Bradley, then turn on Stowell," Stoner explained.
"We will only have about two large delivery trucks coming in per day," Stoner added. "We have a 150-foot truck radius at the site, and access to delivery is perfect. We want the store to open by spring of 2017 if things go as planned."
Along with approving permits for the new businesses, the Planning Commission also approved plans for the relocation of Costco and a new 24-pump gas station on the southern portion of the site. The new Costco will have a tower feature on the main entrance, along with an outdoor eating and seating area.
"Turnover of customers is expected to be about 200 to 400 per hour, so in addition to being able to queue traffic and stack cars, Costco will have other attendants on site if things get too congested," Zayer said. "Attendants will direct traffic, if need be."
Hours for the Costco gas station will be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. in order to allow plenty of time for customers to get gas and for the store to regulate traffic congestion. The fuel station will be open only for Costco members.